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Bradley Slides By Moore in Tight Race for Mayor : Elections: Hometown advantage may have been the edge for councilman, but his foe still cries foul. : Keydeck ends here.

June 03, 1993|TINA GRIEGO and EMILY ADAMS | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

COMPTON — In the end, it appeared the hometown advantage was just the edge Councilman Omar Bradley needed to become this city's next mayor.

In a race one nervous spectator called "as tight as a bad pair of shoes" Bradley and his rival, Councilwoman Patricia A. Moore, each won 17 precincts, mostly by a handful of votes. But Bradley dominated at least three precincts, all in his own councilmanic district on the west side of town, where Bradley was born and raised.

The local roots, together with Bradley's emphasis on bringing much-needed jobs to the city, apparently carried more weight with voters than Moore's focus on social issues and her outspoken, activist-style leadership.

Bradley won 52.7% of the vote, while Moore received 47.3%

Moore, who in the past two years has become one of Compton's most visible and controversial leaders, will return to private life after four years in public office.

But in her characteristic fiery manner, Moore vowed not to retire quietly. On Wednesday, she accused City Clerk Charles Davis of rigging the election to ensure that Bradley would win and said she would ask for an investigation by the state attorney general. Davis shrugged off Moore's accusations, saying it was just a "case of sour grapes and a poor-sport loser."

Bradley will vacate his council seat to become mayor, and the City Council must decide whether to appoint someone to serve the remaining two years of his term or hold a special election. Bradley has indicated that he would support the appointment of a Latino to the seat because no Latinos have ever served on the council, though they make up nearly 50% of the population.

Voters seemed to be sending a mixed message. While electing Bradley in the runoff, they rejected candidates he had supported for City Council and treasurer. One of Bradley's allies, incumbent Councilwoman Bernice Woods, was upset by a political newcomer, Yvonne Arceneaux.

Moore ally Marcine Shaw defeated Compton school board member Lynn Dymally for council, and Moore's choice for treasurer, Douglas Sanders, defeated Delores Zurita.

Turnout was higher than expected with roughly 20% of the town's 35,000 voters going to the polls.

The race between Bradley and Moore was close until the end of the evening, when several precincts in Bradley's district reported. When the final ballots were counted showing him to be the winner by 349 votes, whoops and cheers filled the City Council chambers and Bradley dropped his head into his hands. Wiping his eyes, Bradley gathered his wife and several supporters into an exuberant bearhug.

"We never ran just for the City Council," Bradley told his supporters at a celebration later in the evening. "We wouldn't stop until we were mayor. We knew we were always the mayor of the city of Compton."

Bradley said that as mayor he will continue to focus on bolstering the economy and creating jobs.

But the accusations and flashes of temper that dominated the mayoral campaign continued even after the ballots were counted and the winners declared. By evening's end, one of Moore's supporters was taken to jail after being accused of assaulting a Bradley supporter, the new mayor had threatened Moore's campaign consultant, and Moore was complaining about the city clerk's handling of the election.

At a meeting with tired and frustrated campaign workers late Tuesday evening, Moore demanded to know why the ballot boxes from three precincts had come in nearly an hour and a half after the others. Bradley won two of those precincts, including one in his district that gave him his largest margin, 107 votes. Bradley beat Moore in that same key precinct by 129 votes during the April primary.

But Moore said her poll watchers had come across numerous anomalies. For example, they saw some

voters turning in several absentee ballots at the polls, a violation of voting regulations, Moore said.

Moore also lambasted Davis for holding a press conference on the eve of the election to call for an investigation of a Moore campaign piece, which he said might constitute mail fraud.

"It was a bogus charge, and he knew it," Moore said. "He did it just to throw a cloud so he could begin to erode our integrity so he could be in position to steal this election. I believe he literally stole this election."

Davis said the ballot boxes "came in fine as far as I am concerned."

At one precinct, "they just took a long time counting," Davis said. At another, the person responsible for the ballot box did not have any transportation to bring it to City Hall. She took the box home, and a police officer went to pick it up, Davis said.

Moore also accused Bradley of threatening to "get" everyone who was supporting her.

"The man is dangerous," she said. "We've seen his childish, uncontrollable behavior. I fear--I genuinely fear--for those who supported me."

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